another sad day in the US

I will probably get back to post about Slovenia later today, but right now, all I can think about is the horrible juxtaposition of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. So many dead. So many wounded. So many times we in the United States turn on our televisions to have them filled with police officers behind crime tape and press conferences with politicians and police chiefs updating the death toll and the condition of the wounded and what we know about the perpetrator.

Each new iteration feels like a surreal retelling of the same story. Different details. Same shock, grief, and bewilderment.

People ask, “How could it happen here?” It can happen anywhere in the United States. A school. A church. A store. A nightclub. A workplace. A movie theater. Any day. Any time.

It happened a few miles away from my home in April, 2009.

Many of us have made pleas for stricter gun laws, which sometimes works at the state level. Many of us have advocated for better mental health care, which sometimes works at the state level. But state borders are easily crossed, so we need action at the federal level.

Increasingly, though, the perpetrators appear not to be suffering from mental illness. Instead, they are shooting at people as an expression of hatred, because of race or religion or national origin or sexual orientation or some other difference that, in their viewpoint, sets “us” against “them.”

It is hateful rhetoric turned into hate-fueled action.

I don’t know if that brand of rhetoric stops, it will lead to fewer deaths and injuries, but it is well-worth trying, especially if it is replaced by respectful conversation where people of differing viewpoints actually listen to one another.

It may sound like a pipe dream, but it is possible. There are already people in both the public and private sphere who model this behavior.

It’s something we can all do, in addition to the oft-requested thoughts and prayers.

Today, I am renewing my commitment to respectful dialogue. Will you?

Another voice

In response to this powerful article by Sister Christine Schenk, I wanted to share one small story of an incident that happened when I was working at an office as a summer job.

I was doing some filing when a man came up behind me and tickled me on my ribcage. I turned around quickly and an older man from another department was standing there right behind me. He said in surprise, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were Maggie,” and walked away.

I was shocked. As a young feminist from Smith College, I knew that this was totally unacceptable office behavior.

I told Maggie (not her real name) and some of the other women in the office what had happened. Maggie acknowledged that this man often did this kind of thing; she supposed it was because he was trying to cover up the fact that he was gay. Best to keep quiet about it so as not to get him in trouble.

It was discouraging to me that anyone would behave that way and get away with it repeatedly, but the other women just accepted it as the way things are.

It is even more discouraging that decades later, people still make excuses for abusive behaviors of all kinds.

No, it is not okay to touch another person against that person’s wishes.  It is not okay to belittle or bully or threaten another person.

Every person is due respect at all times.

No matter how rich, famous, powerful, or talented a person in, they never have permission to treat another human being in a disrespectful way.

Period.

living in Zootopia?

Given that the movie Zootopia came out in the spring when we were busy dealing with Grandma’s death, I saw it for the first time recently in our local late-run movie theater.  I found a number of uncomfortable parallels about racism, sexism, prejudice, jumping to often unwarranted conclusions, and fear and fear-mongering.

I feel like I am living in the midst of those things.

After the shootings in Baton Rouge yesterday, the public officials in Louisiana tried to quell rumors and pleaded for calm. President Obama then reiterated his calls for civility and for toning down divisive rhetoric, especially important as we enter two weeks of political conventions.

We need to pull together as community, as a nation, and as citizens of the world.

I am adding my voice to this effort, as I tried to do in this recent post.

I admit to being disheartened by those who are publicly blaming President Obama for the deaths of the police officers, following years of hateful rhetoric that has so many not only questioning our civic institutions’ legitimacy but also falling into violent extremism, hate speech, fear, mistrust, and/or hyper-individualism.

We are better than this.

We have brains that can gather facts and reach reasonable conclusions from them.

We have hearts to love others and to move us to care for them.

We have bodies that enable us to interact with our loved ones and for the common good.

We must not allow ourselves to be bullied, misled, or blinded by hatred or fear.

We need each other.

We are connected to each other.

We must respect each other’s human dignity.

Never forget.

One-Liner(ish) Wednesday: outsider

“The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing.”
~ Richard Rohr

During this time of tensions, if not outright hostility, between some individuals and groups that they deem as “outsiders” due to differences of race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, gender expression, etc., this quote is especially meaningful. It reminds me to show respect for everyone, even when disagreeing on fact or principle with their viewpoint.
~ JC

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/27/one-liner-wednesday-it-really-sucks/

This is also part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Visit here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/27/just-jot-it-january-27th-mendaciloquent/

JJJ 2016

To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here.

Comment removal

I’ve just done something I’ve very rarely had cause to do – remove a comment from my blog.

Truthfully, I am not so inundated with comments that this is likely to be a common occurrence, but, for the record, I have a low tolerance threshold for coarse language and decided that I won’t leave it on my blog.

I admit that I feel badly for erasing someone’s opinion, but civility and respect are important to me, so I am making space for them here as I am able.